On August 31, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had acquired court orders against the operators of a telemarketing scheme that was pitching phony business and grant opportunities. Under the settlement with the FTC, the operators have agreed to be banned from those lines of business. According to the FTC, the group actively targeted seniors, veterans and consumers in debt.
The FTC filed a complaint against the defendants in October of 2016. According to that complaint, the defendants charged consumers hundreds or thousands of dollars and falsely promised to create a website, which would allow them to be linked with Amazon.com. The consumers were promised they would be able to generate a substantial income.
The telemarketers associated with the scheme frequently told consumers that they represented the government. They falsely told consumers that they could acquire grants from the government and other sources by paying them thousands of dollars. The stipulated final orders banned Carl E. Morris Jr., Stephanie A. Bateluna, Stacey Vela, and Paramount Business Services LLC from engaging in telemarketing, grant products and services, the sale of business opportunities, and related products and services.
They have also been barred from misrepresenting an affiliation with Amazon.com, any online merchant, or the government. The defendants have been prohibited from benefiting from consumers’ personal information they have collected. Each order comes with a judgment of more than $11.8 million, but will be partially suspended for Bateluna, Vela and Paramount, since they have agreed to surrender their assets.